The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk is partnering with researchers at Boston University to investigate practices for improving reading comprehension and reducing reading anxiety with fourth- and fifth-grade students with reading difficulties. Previous research demonstrates a high prevalence of anxiety among children experiencing reading difficulties. Amie Grills of Boston University and MCPER Executive Director Sharon Vaughn conducted a pilot study examining the effects of a reading intervention program that featured strategies for reducing anxiety. The researchers will further develop and test an integrated approach to reducing anxiety and reading problems in a randomized controlled trial with students in Texas and Massachusetts.
The project team will assess the efficacy of a multicomponent reading and anxiety-management intervention in a randomized controlled trial. Students will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) reading and anxiety-management instruction, (2) reading-only instruction, or (3) business-as-usual comparison condition.
Fourth-grade students with reading difficulties will participate in the study. The research team will screen students identified with reading problems using the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test.
Instructional practices for reducing anxiety will focus on three core areas: (1) recognizing feelings and understanding how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related; (2) practicing various relaxation techniques and developing stress-management skills; and (3) recognizing anxious and unhelpful thoughts and changing them. The research team will embed these practices within a previously tested reading intervention in an effort to improve students’ reading and socioemotional outcomes.
Researchers are currently enhancing the instructional materials and will post them here when available.